S15: Highlanders 28, Force 31


imagesThe Western Force’s in-form No.8 Ben McCalman feels his team needs to repeat last week’s fast start if they want to stay on the winning track.

After going down to the Waratahs and Brumbies, because of slow starts, they blitzed the Rebels in the first half last week and walked away with a 32-7 triumph that saw them move off the foot of the table. The Force scored four tries in the opening 27 minutes to beat the visitors from Melbourne.

McCalman said his side’s goal to dominate from the outset had not changed. “The focus is on the first 20 minutes; really starting well, playing as a 15, knowing your role and how they help out the rest of the team on the field,” he said in an interview on the Force website.

“While it’s 15 who start, the value we got from our bench last week is something that was also very important in the win and it will be this week as well.”

The Highlanders are coming off their bye and have an even ledger at one win and a loss this season.

Both their games have been against New Zealand franchises – with their win coming against the Blues and their loss in a tight affair with reigning back-to-back champions, the Chiefs. McCalman, who has been one of the stand out players for the Force in their first three matches, says they will need to be prepared for the physical Highlanders outfit.

“They are a team that are looking to take it to us early on in the game – we are trying to do the same so it should be a great battle,” he said. “After losing our first two games and winning the third, we can go two from the first four and that is certainly a big step in setting up our season.

“We were not happy with our first two games but we were happy with our last game.”

Recent results:
2013: Force won 19-18, Perth
2011: Force won 21-14, Dunedin
2010: Force won 41-27, Queenstown
2009: Force won 33-28, Perth
2008: Force won 36-28, Queenstown
2007: Highlanders won 8-7, Perth

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Kurt Baker, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 Shane Christie, 6 John Hardie, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 Craig Millar, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Phil Burleigh.

Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Junior Rasolea, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman ,20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Marcel Brache.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Ben O’Keefe (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

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Better known as Bunny, Took over after Pissant went over to the "Dark Side"


  1. Halftime score in Dunedin – Highlanders 16, Force 21

    First half was on of that stop start affairs with both teams wanted to run the ball. One thing that stands out this year with most teams is the handling errors in the games.

    Seven handling errors from Highlanders and eight from the Force. This game is still their for both teams to grap

  2. Counter attack with a charge down from force gives them their bonus point try in the corner…..

    Score Update: Highlanders 16, Force 31

    Highlanders will have to play more direct now and keep ball in hand

  3. Force must keeps playing getting the idea they want to defend the score now and that is going to cost you the game …..

    Penalty kick for Highlanders gives them 3 points and crawling their way back to 31-24 with 12 min to go

  4. Finally Parker gets over for the Highlanders

    Score: Highlanders 29, Force 31 and that is final score, this was just plain stupid play from Highlanders in the last 7 min against 13 players from the Force.

    I will through my captain in Alcatraz for being stupid and let him out after he has read the Rugby for Dummies a 1000 times.

    Great spirit for the Force and Ebersohn impressed me on defence and his general play

  5. Refereeing at the breakdown and scrums by Australia’s top referee was atrocious and clearly displays that Australian referees are taught refereeing at a ballet school…

    Stuff I saw

    1. No clear air between second tackler before he competes on the ground ball.
    2. My favorite hobby horse… tackled player NOT given a chance to place before ball is competed on
    3. Players permitted to dive over the ball
    4. Scrumtime a disaster… every single scrum could have had penalties.


    That said

    Ebersohn has just told Jean De Villiers to retire… or maybe answered our ten issues…